Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Creative ways with weeds - Using weeds to create dyes

I was poking around on the internet this morning and found another great gardening blog that I wanted to share. It is called Green Gardening with Ann Lovejoy and is written in Bainbridge Island, WA.

Ann's post entitled Creative Ways with Weeds points out another wonderul way to recycle garden "waste". Ann uses "weeds" to make dyes for her knitting projects.

Here is an excerpt from this wonderful post:

I also spin yarns for use in many projects, and one of my great pleasures is to dye yarn and fabric with natural dyes. I find it utterly fascinating to experiment with natural dyes, turning plain wool into lovely, delicate shades of green and gold, rust and pale orange, gold and soft yellow.

Putting Noxious Weeds To Work 

What does this have to do with morning glory? Besides adding great tilth to my compost, it makes a marvelous dye for protein fibers like wool and silk. Without any color fixer (mordant), natural yarn simmered in a morning glory infusion will turn a soft yellow. With alum as a mordant, the yarn will be a clear yellow. Add a touch of chrome and you’ll get a lively golden yellow. Copper makes the dye greener, while iron deepens it to a rich olive green. 

Many of my dye plants of choice are noxious weeds; not just morning glory, but ivy, Scotch broom, Canadian thistle, horsetail, and many more. It is amazingly satisfying to free a tree from its strangle hold, then cook up a big batch of the removed ivy. It smells quite sweet, rather like asparagus when cooking, and the resulting broth makes a gentle green yarn that is really beautiful. Read More

After finding that article, I spent quite a bit of time reading Ann's other posts. Her writing style is beautiful and personal and reading her posts made me feel like I was having a conversation with a new gardening friend. Here are some more great posts of hers that I think you will enjoy:

Getting the Garden Ready for Winter
Easy Care Garden Tips for Fall
What a Wonderful Day! - Adventures in mushroom hunting

Landscape Hints from an Eco-Cool Remodel Tool

I found this really cool....I mean ECO-Cool...Remodel Tool through an article on Treehugger.com.

The Eco-Cool Remodel Tool is one of several green tools on the website for King County, Washington's Solid Waste Division's website.

This neat web-based Tool lets you select an area of a model green home to reveal ideas and tips for environmentally-friendly renovations.

Here are some of the tips listed when you select the landscape area of the drawing (I have provided some links to local, related articles):

Patios, walkways and paths
•Use permeable materials for patios, walkways and paths such as clay brick, rock or concrete pavers, broken concrete, recycled glass pavers, crushed rock, wood chips, nutshells, and tumbled recycled glass to help minimize runoff and flooding. Impermeable (non-porous) surfaces such as concrete patios and paths do not allow rainwater to naturally percolate into the soil.

Designing your landscape to match its conditions, such as climate, shade and moisture levels will save you money and time, and will look natural and beautiful. Design your landscape so it requires minimal water and maintenance:

•Select native plant species. They are adapted to your area, many are drought-tolerant, and most do not need additional fertilizer.
•Certify your backyard as a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. Create a backyard habitat that will attract beautiful songbirds, butterflies, frogs, and other interesting wildlife for viewing from your very own window.
•Install water-wise or drought-resistant plants.
•Use pest- and disease-resistant plant varieties.
•Put the right plant in the right place (e.g. installing shade plants in the shade, not the sun)
•Use mulch to protect plants and conserve water.
•If your house is on top of a hill or other breezy location, plant trees or shrubs to block the prevailing wind. This will help reduce cold air infiltration.
Minimize the amount of lawn in your yard.

Irrigation systems
•Automatic sprinkler systems waste about 30 percent of the water they deliver. It is possible to design a landscape that minimizes the need for regular supplemental watering once the landscape is established.

Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are good alternatives to permanent in-ground irrigation systems. Soaker hoses are made from recycled plastic and are inexpensive. Drip irrigation systems apply water directly to the soil through tiny emitters so they allow for more precise watering to match the needs of specific plant types.

◦If you choose to install a permanent in-ground irrigation system, look for piping made from polyethylene, as opposed to PVC.
•Install a weather-based irrigation controller that automatically adjusts the watering schedule according to the weather.
•If your garden hose leaks at the spigot threads, try to install a rubber, round-edged washer instead of a flat-edged washer.

Rainwater harvest
You can minimize potable water use by storing roof rainwater for later use in the yard. Whichever system(s) you choose, you will be helping to reuse water that would normally go to waste in a storm drain. First, reduce your water consumption, then invest in harvesting systems.

•Water can be stored in rain barrels, cisterns or rain gardens.
•Cisterns are large tanks that can store hundreds to thousands of gallons of water, enough to significantly reduce or eliminate the need to use municipal water for landscape purposes.
•You can also put roof water directly to use in your yard with a rain garden. Rain gardens feature plants that thrive in wet conditions coupled with soils that allow safe ground percolations. Rain gardens must be carefully designed and located to avoid flooding.

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